Tour operator offers optimism
The activity of leading German tour operator TUI in Greece could, under certain conditions, more than double this year compared to 2020, sources from the travel group tell Kathimerini. They explain that plans for 2021 provide for the utilization of 80% of available capacity in Greece compared to the record year of 2019, which is used as a yardstick.
It will also depend on the course of the pandemic and the vaccinations, but barring any nasty surprises, the season could begin from June if not earlier, company sources from Germany tell Kathimerini.
A key dimension is the seating availability airlines will offer on flights to Greece, which remains unclear; this may well be the most important matter after the health dimension, because even if there is increased demand, it will be of no use if there is no means of transport to satisfy it.
The management of July and August traffic is expected to prove quite a challenge, as signs are pointing to a wave of last-minute bookings. That is set to test the flexibility of tour operators as well as hoteliers. Increased demand in conditions of limited supply – since not all hotels are expected to open – will put pressure on prices, both those that the operators charge travelers to bolster demand and those that hoteliers will claim from operators.
For now, many 2020 bookings that were transformed into vouchers are now turning into bookings for this year, while the TUI systems are receiving a quite encouraging number of new bookings for Greece for 2021, company sources report. They add that there is a similar demand for Spain and Portugal, and gradually for Turkey too. Therefore competition and the capacity for flexibility will test destinations and hoteliers.
Another parameter major tour operators are carefully examining for 2021, including TUI, is the best possible achievement of economies of scale – i.e. the potential of channeling demand easily and rapidly, and with cost control – to those destinations that have the infrastructure and air links to serve it.